Fabulous dress? Check. Overnight babysitter? Check. Shoes, jewelry, teeny handbag? Check. I was all set for the wedding in Temecula Wine Country.
Considering this was our first night away with a babysitter, I couldn’t believe how easily everything had fallen into place. Phil even took the initiative to book us a place through AirBnB, so that wasn’t even on my plate. He told me he got us a condo just minutes from Old Town Temecula. It is possibly the first time, in our 20+ year relationship, that I didn’t book the accommodations. What a pleasure.
The condo was cute and easy to find. The owner — Wendell — was friendly and well-put-together. He was also obviously gay. I only mention this detail because it will become relevant later on.
He welcomed us in and showed us around, pointing out all the amenities — extra towels, chilled bottles of water, wifi password. I heard barking coming from behind a closed door. “Are we babysitting your dogs for you?” I asked, half joking, half confused. “No, I’ll take them with me,” he said.
He gave us a key to the front door and got back to work on his laundry, the stacked washer and dryer visible through the open closet off the kitchen. Phil and I got dressed for the wedding and connected to the wifi. When we came out of the bedroom, Wendell and the dogs were gone. We locked the front door behind us and headed off.
I was exhausted when I got back after the wedding. My feet were about to mutiny — I was wearing killer shoes, in both senses of the word. My “shapewear”, which had given me a kick-ass body for my sheath dress, was ready to be kicked to the curb. It was time to let all the squishy parts free. Phil and his friends had decided to keep the night alive at nearby Pechanga Casino, but I had given him my blessing and bailed. I put the key in the condo lock, opened the door and locked it behind me.
Inside was dimly lit by a light in the kitchen. In the dark of the tiny living room, I noticed some light seeping underneath the door of the other bedroom, the one where Wendell had kept the dogs earlier that day.
Huh, I thought. He forgot to turn out the light.
Then I noticed there was a sound of … what was that? The dryer. The dryer was making noises from the open closet off the kitchen. We’d left for the wedding at 3pm. Had the dryer been running all this time? There must be something wrong with it, I thought. Maybe it will burn the whole place down. Oh well, it’s not my place.
These clothes and shoes had to come off. I stripped down in our bedroom, every item removed a miniature halleluia. I started the shower in the adjoining bathroom and was about to climb in, but the thought of the running dryer was still bugging me. The condo was so dim I didn’t think any passers-by could see me, so I went back into the kitchen and peeked into the laundry closet. Everything seemed fine. No signs of smoke or electrical damage. I wandered through the kitchen and the living room, wondering what to do, and again considered opening the 2nd bedroom door to turn out the light. I stood in front of the door for a few moments, undecided. But I didn’t feel comfortable going into a room Wendell hadn’t shown to us — it felt like an invasion of privacy. I went back to the bathroom for a long, hot shower and thoughts of the dryer drifted away on the steam.
Until — out of the shower now, the noises from the kitchen area got louder. Kind of bang-y. Had the dryer finally broken apart after tumbling for 8 hours straight? I put on my satin and lace negligee — it was a night away, after all — and went back into the kitchen.
And there, pulling clothes from the dryer, was Wendell. At 11pm. Folding laundry.
That explained why he had looked at me funny when I’d asked him if we’d be babysitting his dogs. Who needs a sitter? He wasn’t going anywhere.
Wendell didn’t bat an eye when I appeared in the kitchen in my nightie. He just asked me how the wedding was and went back to his folding. (Why so much laundry? Does he run a laundry service to supplement his AirBnB income? I didn’t ask.)
I sauntered nonchalantly back to our bedroom, shut the door, and let my mind race. Wendell had been home the whole time.
He’d been home the whole time.
What if he had opened his bedroom door just as I was standing in front of it earlier? I’d look like I was misguidedly offering myself to a disinterested man. Could you imagine the humiliation? In life, timing is everything.
The next morning, Wendell offered us coffee, croissants and biscotti before we checked out. We had thought we’d booked a condo for the night. Turns out, we’d booked a bonfide bed & breakfast.